Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC can't just wait for the new Jordan, basketball's Belichick to capitulate

One of these days/decades, the teams who open the NBA Finals on Thursday in San Antonio will eventually step aside. The better bet for OKC is to get better and quick.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 4, 2014

“Nobody else is in that class or even close to it but this team,” Derek Fisher said Sunday, about 16 hours after what probably was his final Thunder game. “But this group, they have it, they want it. You just have to do it, though. There’s no shortcuts.”

It’s possible the Thunder coronation we’ve been waiting on will be pushed on both ends. Thunder improvement, which is mandatory, but also the fall of other empires. The Heat is on the decline and could implode, depending on the contract decisions of LeBron either this summer or next. The Spurs some decade or another will age out of contention. The Thunder is ready to step into the void, just like the 1994 Rockets and the 1991 Bulls and the 1989 Pistons.

“I’ve always (had) this mentality — we have enough right now,” Scotty Brooks said. “We just have to continue to improve what we have. We will add pieces here and there but always have to have the mentality, we have a good team right now and we have to continue to improve it in different ways.”

You can improve by upgrading the roster, but also by tightening the screws on the holdovers. Cut down on careless turnovers and lax transition defense. Everything can be improved, but those two areas are a good place to start. Kendrick Perkins mentioned the turnovers this week; Hubie Brown talked about the transition defense a week or so ago.

Clean up those areas, and the roster decisions won’t be as paramount. Yes, the Thunder will have a different look. But sometimes, decisions don’t have to be right or wrong. Decisions just have to be made, then make it the right one. Bear down on defense, bear down on valuing the ball, and then it’s not so critical who is in the layup line with Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Jackson.

“It’s a results-oriented business,” Fisher said. “In the NBA, the No. 1 result is winning the championship, and that’s not what we got done. But you can’t walk away from it thinking you completely failed. Not very many teams were able to do what we were able to do. We were one of three teams left to have a chance to win a championship, 27 other teams wished they had had that chance.”

One of three. But the other two are led by the new Jordan and the basketball Belichick. The Thunder has to get better quick or wait for them to abandon the throne.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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